Psychology (Forensic) - 8257

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Science

Contact: School of Psychology

Campus: Sydney

Career: Postgraduate

Typical Duration: 2 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 6

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 96


Master of Psychology (Forensic) (Specialisation)

View program information for previous years

Program Description

The Master of Psychology (Forensic) program was offered for the first time in 1998. The degree is unique among masters programs in forensic psychology at Australian universities in that both a school of psychology and a law school are involved in its teaching; each School at UNSW is a recognised leader in its field in Australia.

The program is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) as the fifth and sixth years of study leading to full membership of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and registration as a psychologist with the national Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). Graduates of the program are eligible for Associate Membership of the APS College of Forensic Psychologists. After completing a further two years of full-time equivalent supervised practice, graduates are eligible to apply for full membership and endorsement as a Forensic Psychologist.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

Graduates of the Master of Psychology (Forensic) program will have, as per the APAC Accreditation Standard 5.1.12, the following core capabilities and attributes that are essential for practicing psychology safely upon registration.

1. Knowledge of the Discipline

Overall knowledge of the discipline underpins all of the other capabilities and includes knowledge of psychological principles, professional ethics and standards, theories of individual and systemic functioning and change, dysfunctional behaviour, psychopathology, the cultural bases of behaviour and organisational systems.

2. Ethical, Legal and Professional Matters

The ethical, legal and professional aspects of psychological practice.

3. Psychological Assessment & Measurement

The ongoing, interactive, and inclusive process that serves to describe, conceptualise, and predict relevant aspects of a client (be that client an organization, group or individual).

4. Intervention Strategies

Activities that promote, restore, sustain or enhance cognitive functioning and a sense of well being in individuals or groups of clients through preventive, developmental or remedial services and/or in the case of groups or organizations, restoring or enhancing group or organizational functioning.

5. Research and Evaluation
Systematic inquiry involving problem identification and the acquisition, organisation, and interpretation of information allowing critical analysis and disciplined, rigorous, careful and scientific inquiry into psychological phenomena.

6. Communication and Interpersonal Relationships

The capacity to convey, appraise and interpret information in both oral and written formats and to interact on a professional level with a wide range of client groups and other professionals, including:
  • the ability to establish and maintain constructive working relationships and in clinical settings therapeutic alliances with clients;
  • the ability to communicate, interact and liaise for a range of purposes (e.g., discussing research with other professionals; discussing relevant psychological services with clients, potential clients);
  • the ability to develop knowledge of theories and empirical data on professional relationships, such as:
  • interpersonal relationships;
  • power relationships;
  • therapeutic alliance;
  • interface with social psychology;
  • more specific knowledge of the fluctuations of the therapeutic/professional relationship as a function of intervention setting.

Program Structure

The program consists of three components, all of which are compulsory, totalling 96 units of credit (48 in each Stage).
  1. Coursework - Weekly lectures and seminars with associated written forms of assessment (48 UOC)
  2. Professional practice - Completion of a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised practice in forensic settings, weekly Forensic Psychology meetings, and Skills Training Workshops (24 UOC)
  3. A research thesis (24 UOC).
Stage 1
Stage 2
*LAWS9800 and LAWS9810 are offered in alternate years (LAWS9810 was last offered in 2015). Students may complete these courses in any order and should enrol in whichever is offered, regardless of whether they are enrolled in Stage 1 or Stage 2 of their program.

Note: Refer to individual Course Descriptions for pre-requisite information.

Academic Rules

  1. Students must satisfactorily complete PSYC7413 Research Thesis (Forensic) 1 before they can enrol in PSYC7414 Research Thesis (Forensic) 2.
  2. The final grading for the degree is based on performance across all three components: coursework (50%), professional practice (25%), and research thesis (25%). Award: First Class, Second Class Division I, Second Class Division II.


For information regarding fees for UNSW programs, please refer to the following website:  UNSW Fee Website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum entrance requirement is completion of an accredited four-year Bachelor degree in psychology (with First Class or Upper Second Class Honours) from UNSW, or equivalent from another APAC-recognised university.

Psychology qualifications obtained outside of Australia must contain a significant research thesis component, and must be assessed as the equivalent of an Australian four-year sequence in psychology (including Honours) by the APS.

UNSW English Language Requirements can be found here, however all Master of Psychology students must meet registration standards developed by both the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and PsyBA in order to register as provisional psychologists. Those not registered as provisional psychologists cannot undertake professional practice, a compulsory component of all Master of Psychology programs, as they are not permitted to have any client contact.

Therefore, all applicants, regardless of current residency or citizenship status, should familiarise themselves with the PsyBA registration standards here, and AHPRA’s new standards on English language skills and criminal history.

As the number of places available each year is limited, entry into the program is competitive. Selection is based on academic qualifications for the program, two referee reports, and performance at an interview. Only shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview.

Applicants should refer to the School of Psychology’s How to Apply page for more detail about the application procedure and requirements.

Additional Information

When taking a full-time load of 24 UOC per semester, this program extends across two calendar years, rather than four academic semesters with vacation breaks.

The minimum period of enrolment before the award of the degree is four semesters for full-time students and six semesters for part-time students.

Part-time students are normally expected to take 12 UOC per semester.

Area(s) of Specialisation